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Cuba Customs in port of Havana

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We would like to bring a suitcase full of supplies for the Cuban people. Will customs at the Havana port allow us to take the suitcase off the ship? Thank you.

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We would like to bring a suitcase full of supplies for the Cuban people. Will customs at the Havana port allow us to take the suitcase off the ship? Thank you.

 

 

 

Please don't (try to) do this. While appreciated, your efforts will cause more work for any aid organization than would be expended had you just made a financial contribution to a bona fide NGO.

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Ditto above, and also the same answers you are receiving from the other cruise lines you posted this same question on.

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Agree with both of the above answers.

 

While every country has its' poor, you might be surprised when you get to Cuba....it's not like Jamaica, with cardboard huts and dirt floors. Yes, many of the buildings are crumbling, but the people are dressed nicely, are talking on their cell phones and the govt. provides them with food, housing, electric, education, medical, etc. If you want to donate to a charity there, do so....but handing out "stuff" isn't helpful. As a matter of fact, even in poverty-stricken third world countries, handing out stuff isn't helpful....gives the people a "welfare, entitlement mentality" that doesn't encourage work. Ask any missionary!

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My friend was turned back with her suitcase for Cuba and had to take it back to Florida

Jancruz1

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How would you know what "supplies" might be needed by anyone in Cuba??

Have you visited there before this trip and noticed a specific need??

I agree that you can give a donation to a specific charity if you like but bringing "stuff" you think might be useful is a waste .

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We did a land tour in Cuba two years ago and were encouraged to bring basic supplies-toothpaste, shampoo, soap, spices (yes, spices), guitar strings. You may be seeing prosperous looking people but the basics we take for granted are often unavailable. Take a look inside a government store that only takes Cuban pesos and you will see what they have to offer. People still had to use ration books when we were there. We did not donate to individuals but only to organizations that we visited. We did not bring any books, bibles, etc. which can cause real problems for people. Since we were limited to one suitcase each by the tour, nobody brought suitcases full of donations. That fact that a country would confiscate such a suitcase tells you that you are not in Kansas anymore no matter how things may look. The people are wonderful but they do have challenges to deal with.

 

Mary

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Better yet, donate to Puerto Rico which is still suffering from hurricane Maria and Haiti from the earthquake. Give to legitimate 501-C3 organizations so you know your donations are well looked after.

 

When in Cuba go visit an orphanage or hospital. You may be able to bring basic medical supplies or toys for the children. I would check with the Cuban embassy what you can bring.

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You may be seeing prosperous looking people but the basics we take for granted are often unavailable. Take a look inside a government store that only takes Cuban pesos and you will see what they have to offer.

They were not "prosperous looking people", but did dress nicely, were clean and polite....we wandered around 3 cities and were never afraid. And the govt does care for their basic needs, which might seem too basic to Americans, but they are now also able to have a side job and add to their govt benefits. My friend and I shopped in many local pharmacies and other stores and were the only tourists...I saw their store shelves and they looked just like ours. They do have ration books for some things, but again, they have enough basics to get along. We had our hair cut in a local beauty salon....average women were there getting their hair and nails done.

 

On the other side of the coin is Haiti....the Haitians are wonderful people, but most of them live in poverty. Crime is rampant and violence is common. Their govt doesn't help them AT ALL. Two of my daughters have lived there as missionaries and so have quite a few of my friends. The missionaries don't just hand out "freebies" to the people....they teach them skills and give them opportunities to learn how to earn a living. :halo:

Edited by Go-Bucks!

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They were not "prosperous looking people", but did dress nicely, were clean and polite....we wandered around 3 cities and were never afraid. And the govt does care for their basic needs, which might seem too basic to Americans, but they are now also able to have a side job and add to their govt benefits. My friend and I shopped in many local pharmacies and other stores and were the only tourists...I saw their store shelves and they looked just like ours. They do have ration books for some things, but again, they have enough basics to get along. We had our hair cut in a local beauty salon....average women were there getting their hair and nails done.

 

On the other side of the coin is Haiti....the Haitians are wonderful people, but most of them live in poverty. Crime is rampant and violence is common. Their govt doesn't help them AT ALL. Two of my daughters have lived there as missionaries and so have quite a few of my friends. The missionaries don't just hand out "freebies" to the people....they teach them skills and give them opportunities to learn how to earn a living. :halo:

 

Bravo to your two daughters and you must be so proud of them. Thank you.

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Bravo to your two daughters and you must be so proud of them. Thank you.

Thank you....I am. They and their husbands are wonderful, giving people who love the Haitians.

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We did a land tour in Cuba two years ago and were encouraged to bring basic supplies-toothpaste, shampoo, soap, spices (yes, spices), guitar strings. You may be seeing prosperous looking people but the basics we take for granted are often unavailable. Take a look inside a government store that only takes Cuban pesos and you will see what they have to offer. People still had to use ration books when we were there. We did not donate to individuals but only to organizations that we visited. We did not bring any books, bibles, etc. which can cause real problems for people. Since we were limited to one suitcase each by the tour, nobody brought suitcases full of donations. That fact that a country would confiscate such a suitcase tells you that you are not in Kansas anymore no matter how things may look. The people are wonderful but they do have challenges to deal with.

 

Mary

 

This was our experience in 2016.

 

Before visiting, our group was told that there is a shortage of the sort of first aid/medical supplies that most of us keep in our own homes. Every religious institution in Cuba maintains a private pharmacy stocked with donated things like aspirin, antibiotic ointments, bandages, toothbrushes/toothpaste, etc. People living in the neighborhood of the churches/synagogues are welcome to visit these pharmacies and, for free, get urgently needed supplies. An individual's religion (or lack thereof) does not matter. We were told to plan bringing about $25 worth of supplies per person. Since we visited one religious institution and one outlying national clinic, we all divided our donations between those two destinations. The residents of Havana have somewhat better access to these products than outlying communities.

 

To anyone cruising to Cuba, if you'll only be in Havana, consider the advice of people telling you to send money to an non-profit aid group rather than bringing stuff.

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On our Cuban cruise last December we were told very specifically that no 'supplies' could be taken off the ship.

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On our Cuban cruise last December we were told very specifically that no 'supplies' could be taken off the ship.

 

Please clarify. Your message could mean that guests were not allowed to raid cruise-supplied products like toilet paper/soap/etc as a donation to the Cuban people. I can well appreciate that restriction. However, I don't see how Oceania could control contents of someone's backpack if the contents were private purchases and if that individual were going to be touring independently/privately.

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Please clarify. Your message could mean that guests were not allowed to raid cruise-supplied products like toilet paper/soap/etc as a donation to the Cuban people. I can well appreciate that restriction. However, I don't see how Oceania could control contents of someone's backpack if the contents were private purchases and if that individual were going to be touring independently/privately.

I believe that Immigration can look in your backpack & refuse entry if you are bringing supplies that you have purchased

 

They do not want the kids to become a begging nation like some other Countries

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I believe that Immigration can look in your backpack & refuse entry if you are bringing supplies that you have purchased

 

They do not want the kids to become a begging nation like some other Countries

 

I understand what you're saying, but my experience -- and that of poster KS & JW -- directly supports visitors being allowed to bring small quantities of supplies. Perhaps the time of our visit (2016) relates to a different point of view about outside supplies.

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I understand what you're saying, but my experience -- and that of poster KS & JW -- directly supports visitors being allowed to bring small quantities of supplies. Perhaps the time of our visit (2016) relates to a different point of view about outside supplies.

That could be

 

In 2016 there were also fewer ships/people bringing stuff in not like today

Canadians who vacation there seem to take things to hand out to the hotel workers

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That could be

 

In 2016 there were also fewer ships/people bringing stuff in not like today

Canadians who vacation there seem to take things to hand out to the hotel workers

 

I've thought about this situation some more. Although time certainly could explain a change in policy, I think there's a more obvious reason why a cruise passenger with a suitcase will be stopping bringing supplies into Cuba. There's no reason other than supplies for a passenger making a port call to take a suitcase off the ship. In contrast, when a visitor making a land trip arrives at the airport, his/her suitcase is likely filled by clothing for the trip. The amount of space most airplane-arriving visitors give to supplies is under the threshold that will bother the authorities. Using that logic, a cruiser coming off a ship with a conventionally-sized tote or unremarkably-sized backpack is probably assumed to be carry supplies for the day on shore. Stuff your back-pack with enough supplies that you look like you're ready for an expedition up Everest and you'll likely be stopped.

 

The port authorities are making calculations about where to put their effort. They're not going to inspect every tote and backpack coming off the ship. They'll go after low hanging fruit like a cruise visitor with a suitcase!

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Please clarify. Your message could mean that guests were not allowed to raid cruise-supplied products like toilet paper/soap/etc as a donation to the Cuban people. I can well appreciate that restriction. However, I don't see how Oceania could control contents of someone's backpack if the contents were private purchases and if that individual were going to be touring independently/privately.

 

I did not take a back pack, so I do not know if they were checking them, but it was my impression that the Cuban custom officials were looking for those people who were interested in doing just what the OP was interested in doing. Could you have gotten away with it? I don't know. I did not try.

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I've thought about this situation some more. Although time certainly could explain a change in policy, I think there's a more obvious reason why a cruise passenger with a suitcase will be stopping bringing supplies into Cuba. There's no reason other than supplies for a passenger making a port call to take a suitcase off the ship. In contrast, when a visitor making a land trip arrives at the airport, his/her suitcase is likely filled by clothing for the trip. The amount of space most airplane-arriving visitors give to supplies is under the threshold that will bother the authorities. Using that logic, a cruiser coming off a ship with a conventionally-sized tote or unremarkably-sized backpack is probably assumed to be carry supplies for the day on shore. Stuff your back-pack with enough supplies that you look like you're ready for an expedition up Everest and you'll likely be stopped.

 

The port authorities are making calculations about where to put their effort. They're not going to inspect every tote and backpack coming off the ship. They'll go after low hanging fruit like a cruise visitor with a suitcase!

Interesting

I know people that used to go to Cuba every winter

 

They would take boxes of supplies for the Cubans

 

the airline even let them take the boxes for free

 

Not sure if this still happens with airlines from Canada to Cuba or not

 

another guy we met ships a container of things like bicycles & meds to a Charity there

 

so they are getting donations of items

 

I guess if you have a contact set up to receive things it might be the difference to people just bring in cases & handing stuff out in the streets

 

Just guessing though

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I guess if you have a contact set up to receive things it might be the difference to people just bring in cases & handing stuff out in the streets

 

Yikes! It never occurred to me that there are people who expect to stand in the middle of the street and try to hand out charitable donations. I was specifically referring to bringing a donation to established centers like the farmacias in churches/synagogues.

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Yikes! It never occurred to me that there are people who expect to stand in the middle of the street and try to hand out charitable donations. I was specifically referring to bringing a donation to established centers like the farmacias in churches/synagogues.

I think giving your donations to a church or Charity organization is the way to go

 

Preferably to set up contact before you arrive

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Yikes! It never occurred to me that there are people who expect to stand in the middle of the street and try to hand out charitable donations. I was specifically referring to bringing a donation to established centers like the farmacias in churches/synagogues.

 

 

There are already organized/experienced NGOs that know what may be needed and have the policies/procedures/mechanisms to deliver those items in an efficacious way.

Why can't "wannabe do-gooders" understand that their well-meaning personal distribution efforts cause more problems then they correct.

Do the research and donate money.

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There are already organized/experienced NGOs that know what may be needed and have the policies/procedures/mechanisms to deliver those items in an efficacious way.

Why can't "wannabe do-gooders" understand that their well-meaning personal distribution efforts cause more problems then they correct.

Do the research and donate money.

 

Your point of view has merit; however, I realize that my comments left out one important detail about my experience, an experience that leads me to post the way I do. I've already written that I took a land trip to Cuba. What I have not said was that it was a group trip with a religious organization that makes multiple trips annually on People to People missions. Our trip included a stop in Havana at a religious-run farmacia and a state-run medical clinic in the outlying countryside. All trip participants were required to bring a modest donation.

 

Admittedly, this is a different situation than that of an unprepared cruiser who docks at the Havana harbor and goes looking for a place to donate supplies to the Cuban people. A visit to Cuba is an emotional experience for American citizens who are old enough to have lived through the tension-filled days of the Cuban blockade and decades of blockade and animosity. There is something demonstrably different about visiting Cuba compared to visiting most other countries, and, as such, I don't share your criticism of folks who want a more personal gesture of good will than writing a check.

 

A cruiser will not have the built-in support that I had when making a donation, but, the information I've shared may help someone who is committed to making a tangible donation achieve that goal. And there's nothing to prevent a cruiser from following up on their port calls with a check!

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